Recently, a number of online retail businesses have emerged to compete with the pioneers of the industry (i.e. Vente-privee, Gilt Groupe, Ideeli, Etsy, Hautelook,…). A few of the new players in the past three years include Fab.com, One Kings Lane, Bonobos, lyst, shoptique, Vaunte, styloko, Nuji and Joss & Main. As a result of the exploding online retail space, my time online has increased, I shop more and I receive more budget alerts from Mint.com.
I typically browse these sites when I’m bored or when I am desperately looking for something at a discount. Recently, I’ve developed an obsession with afternoon tea and have been diligently scanning website after website for a steal on tiered cake stands…But I don’t spend time on these websites the way I do with Facebook or Pinterest, and I’m not engaged in discussion or sharing with my friends what trendy items I’ve just purchased, suggesting that online shopping is not a social activity for me. I believe there is a disconnect between the bloggers/pinners, retailers and customers.
I believe the ideal online shopping experience can be created through a combination of features from Pinterest, Vaunte and Amazon. I’d like to be able to shop the products in the photos that I’ve collected in my photo collages at bargain prices (or even have the option to buy them at retail price) and share my purchases with my friends or followers. Currently, people repinning or liking a photo on pinterest or instagram does not translate into a purchase (most pins are taken from another blog and have no source), and people frequently respond to posts with “where can I get that???” (See the below pictures for examples).
I’ve also included Vaunte in the combo because I like that the company has blended editorial content with an ecommerce platform. Just as you would browse through a fashion magazine for amazing steals and celebrity outfits, you would be able to view these deals and trends via the featured celebrity’s closet on Vaunte. And moreover, you are able to shop the celebrities’ closets. Vaunte bridges the gap between identifying a favorite fashion piece on a celebrity or in a magazine and being able to purchase it.
Finally, I would like to be able to compare the price and quality (used or new) of my favorite handbag across multiple sites like that on Amazon. I believe price comparison helps convince buyers that they’ve found a great deal and eliminates the need to browse other sites, increasing customer retention and activity. And of course, users should be able to share their purchases with their friends and followers so that others can also discover these fashion steals and purchase them. I believe the integration of all these functionalities–follow, collect, share, compare, shop and then share again–would create a more sustainable revenue stream and establish the ultimate online retail platform.
This past week, Pinterest introduced price alerts or “Product Pins”, which is its first step to bridging the gap between pinning and shopping. But Amazon Collections has taken it one step further by allowing individuals to be able to “collect” or “like” and immediately shop the product from multiple sellers. However, Amazon Collections lacks the social network experience, in which I am able to connect with my friends over an item or purchase, view others’ purchases or follow a hashtagged category such as #AfternoonTea (Amazon Collections has limited categories for browsing). Additionally, Amazon Collections looks more like an online outlet, which is not very engaging for the user.
I’m excited to see what these online retail businesses will look like in the next few months!
Share with me your thoughts @tiffanydstone or comment below!